Homemade Red Pasta
Think of this as a sort of Valentine’s Day inspired recipe. Let’s all put on our rose, I mean, red-colored glasses, shall we? I realize this pasta is more light pink and/or salmon-y in color, but it’s the thought that counts. Let’s go with that.
And unlike those pink and red smothered or frosted cookies and desserts, you can make this dish at any time of the year! As someone who is not into the mushy-love stuff, this is more my style anyway.
I’ve made several different types of pasta on this site, including chickpea pasta and a really simple (virtually knead-free) version from culinary school, but this is technically my first flavored homemade pasta. Took me long enough!
There are lots of ways to jazz up homemade pasta. You can make many, many variations, including black pepper, spinach, squid-ink, saffron, or fresh herb pasta, just to name a few. I’ve even seen sweet or savory versions of chocolate pasta!
This red, technically tomato, pasta dough is probably one of the simplest and least labor intensive variations you can make, because it only requires tomato paste—something I’m sure most of you almost always have on hand anyway.
Of course, if you really want to make the color pop, you could probably add a drop or two of red food coloring. I prefer the more natural route, but to each their own!
I’ve been experimenting with homemade pasta dough quite a bit over the last month or so, because I was lucky enough to be spoiled with a KitchenAid pasta attachment for Christmas. I’ve made a few different variations, but have been trying more recipes using part semolina.
Semolina is a coarse durum wheat product—unlike finely ground durum flour, which is used to make normal dried, boxed pasta. It offers a bit more chew and texture than a pasta made with 100% all-purpose flour. I tend to like it a bit more, but that’s just me.
This version has just a small amount of semolina added to it—nothing very significant or substantial. I’m sure I’ll be experimenting more with different percentages as the months go on! But that’s sort of the fun part.
Don’t expect the tomato flavor to be very strong or pronounced in the final dish—it is very subtle. But that also means you can prepare your pasta in as many ways as you wish! My best advice is to choose a simple preparation, as it really allows the pasta to shine. Here’s one great option, Cacio de Pepe, that only requires good cheese, black pepper, and butter.
Homemade Red Pasta
- 2 1/3 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
- 1/2 cup semolina (plus more for dusting)
- 4 whole large eggs
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
Prepare Pasta Dough:
- Combine all-purpose flour and semolina in stand mixer bowl. Using the dough hook attachment, mix over low speed (2) until flours are well incorporated.
- In separate bowl or measuring cup, combine eggs and tomato paste. Whisk together until incorporated (it is ok if a few clumps of tomato paste are here and there).
- Over low speed, slowly pour in the eggs into the center of the bowl. Continue to mix over low speed until dough begins to come together—occasionally scraping down the sides with a spatula to help the process.
- Once dough is mostly incorporated (a shaggy mass), turn off stand mixer and dump the contents of the bowl onto a clean countertop. Don’t worry if there is a small amount of dry ingredients not incorporated yet.
- Start kneading the dough, using the palms and heels of your hand—the dough should not be sticky to the touch.. Once the dough comes together, discard any dried bits or leftover dry ingredients—depending on humidity and the size of your eggs (even large ones can vary in weight), this can vary from batch to batch. **If for some reason, your dough is very dry, add a teaspoon of water at a time and incorporate. Alternatively, if it seems too tacky, dust your hands and countertop with more all-purpose flour.
- Continue to knead the dough for an additional 10-15 minutes, until the dough is very elastic and supple.
- Wrap the dough in plastic wrap tightly and allow to rest at room temperature for 45 minutes to an hour. This will allow the gluten in the dough to relax and any excess flour to be absorbed.
Prepare & Roll Pasta:
- Once dough has rested, divide the dough into six balls. Take one at a time (cover the rest with plastic wrap to prevent from drying out), flatten with palms into a disk and roll (at largest-width setting) using the pasta machine. Fold into an envelope (bring side into center, repeat with other side—open seams facing vertically into machine) and repeat several times at same setting until dough is smooth.
- Roll pasta dough into desired thickness. *For thinner, delicate (eg. cream) pasta sauces, roll pasta dough very thin. **If you plan on serving your pasta with a hearty, rougher sauce, roll a slightly thicker pasta. Repeat with remaining pasta dough until all the pasta is rolled out.
- Allow rolled dough sheets to dry slightly at room temperature (I hang them on whatever I can find in my kitchen) until no longer tacky (this will ensure that shaped pasta will not stick together). The sheets should feel leathery to the touch.
- Shape pasta using pasta machine attachment—I made mine into fettucine. Place the cut pasta onto a baking sheet, coated with a thin layer of semolina. This will keep the pasta from sticking to each other. Store covered with plastic wrap in the fridge or cook immediately.
- Cook pasta in large amount of boiling, salted (should taste like the ocean) water until al dente. Prepare as desired.
Adapted heavily from Mario Batali’s Basic Pasta Dough recipe (from the Molto Italiano Cookbook).
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Regardless of whether it is pink, red or anywhere in between, your Valentine will be one happy camper! Mine was.